Chris Farley (February 15, 1964 – December 18, 1997)
Christopher Crosby Farley was born in Madison, Wisconsin and studied improv before joining Saturday Night Live in 1990. He had a starring or supporting role in most comedy movies in the 1990s until he was found dead of an overdose on December 18, 1997 in Chicago.
Farley was the middle child of five siblings and was always a clown, always trying to make everyone laugh. He studied theater and communications at Marquette University. After university, he joined the Chicago Ark Improv theater group and the Improv Olympic Theatre where he was mentored by Del Close, who had also taught Farley’s idol, comedian John Belushi. Farley’s film debut was a security guard in the smash hit Wayne’s World in 1992.
Though he was riding high professionally, personally Farley had too many demons to overcome. His father had been consumed by alcohol and his son picked up that same struggle and added other narcotic substances into the mix. Over a two-year span, Farley had been in and out of rehab over a dozen times (that’s every month at least?!) Farley was constantly in the spotlight for his engagement in excessive and out-of-control behavior. His manager and fellow comedian, writing partner and friend David Spade both expressed concern publically over Farley’s health. Everyone’s fears were realized December 18, 1997 when Farley was found dead in his Chicago apartment after an extreme binge of substance abuse and partying. Farley had died of an overdose of cocaine and morphine exacerbated by advanced heart disease. Farley was only 33 years old at the time of his death. (Interestingly, his idol Belushi also died at age 33 from a drug overdose.) Farley’s final two films Almost Heroes and Dirty Work were released in 1998. He received a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005. A biography The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts was published in 2008. The biography was partly written by Tommy Farley Jr. (Chris’ older brother).